Monday, December 30, 2013

Gotta love a man in uniform

When Alexa contacted me and said she wanted to do a session with her husband Charlie before he left for a 10 month deployment with the US ARMY, I was ecstatic! I have complete admiration for anyone who is in the military.  Their families endure so much and their spouses suffer greatly. I couldn't imagine what it would be like to lose my husband for several months. I think it would be the equivalent of losing my right arm. My husband is the air I breathe.

Alexa and Charlie were absolutely insanely adorable to photograph. It was very clear that their love could withstand the months to come. I think you will agree that you can feel the passionate and emotion between the two of them. This couple traveled all the way from Texas here to Florida to do this session with me. So it was definitely a must to do downtown Jax with style!

I am happy to report that Charlie  has already returned from his deployment to his beautiful wife! (That tells you how late I am blogging anything, but I definitely wanted to share this with you all!)

Jeremy and Brittany Pombier ::: WEDDING 11.17.13

When I was counting down the days to have Grayson, I was also counting down the days of recovery before I would shoot Brittany and Jeremy Pombier's wedding day. Literally 9 days after having him was their wedding day. Brittany and Jeremy planned the perfect intimate beach resort wedding. Unfortunately the wind and the rains pushed their ceremony to be held under their reception tent, but that didn't stop us from still getting some amazing images just for before sunset. We had such a great time playing in the photo booth and dancing to live music at the reception. Congratulations Brittany and Jeremy!  (Sneak Peek of their wedding day and what their engagement session was like too!)

On a side note-

I don't think second shooters and photography assistants get enough credit for their help and assistance. I feel that main photographers feel intimidated; therefore, they fail to give credit when it truly due. I am giving a huge shout out to my incredibly awesome second shooter and assistant for the day Julie Worthy with Julie Worthy Photography. I shot this wedding a week after having my 7th child as well as female surgery the day after. First I could not drive. I had stitches in my stomach and an episiotomy and was taking pain medication so I was not allowed to drive. This woman drove me to and from the wedding so I could work. Second, I was still breastfeeding, so I had to pump in my van and store it in the lunchbox I brought. Because of this she bought me and packed snacks and water bottles to make sure I was nourished and had strength for the day.  When I look back at these images, I am so thankful for the one who held my light stand when the wind was blowing insanely on the beach or when she loaded and unloaded our golf cart with gear and equipment a dozen times because I wasn't supposed to lift over 10 pounds and we had to rush quickly to get shots before the sun was gone. I am thankful for the one who went up and down the stairs a 100 times to run back to the hotel room to get a missing piece to our pictures. I am thankful she reminded me and encouraged me to take it easy because my body was still healing. Thank you Julie for being my rock on Jeremy and Brittany's wedding day!

Hammock Beach Resort, Palm Coast Florida
Florist/Decor: Connie Parrish
Live Music: Ben Carter
Wedding Cake: Simply Delicious
Hair/Make-Up Debra Dickinson

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Locks of Love for Laura


Just a little over two years ago I met one of the most amazing women I have ever had the privilege to know. Out of the blue one day, I received a private Facebook message from Laura. She explained to me that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer and was going to be having a double mastectomy surgery and wanted to know if I would be willing to take family pictures for her before the big day. I felt completely honored because I knew I was going to be able to give this gift to her that would allow her to hang on to for a lifetime. We met at sunrise at Jacksonville Beach Pier. God blessed us with an absolutely beautiful day! It was perfect! Little did I know that this day was going to be the beginning of an enormous friendship.

Time has gone by and Laura has faced many challenges; both physically, emotionally, and spiritually. During this time, our friendship has grown into something much more.

We are family.


When I think of Laura I am immediately reminded of all the amazing things that we have done together in the short two years I have known her. I documented and watched her run in the 26.2 Run with Donna a breast cancer marathon. I walked beside her for the Making Strides walk in 2011. I photographed her strutting her stuff on the stage for the Pink Carpet Fashion Event at the Florida Theatre. Being her friend has reminded me to never take life for granted. I feel so blessed to be healthy. If God decided to take me tomorrow, I only pray that my heart is ready and that I have served and honored Him enough with the life He has given me. But just watching all that she has gone through just makes my heart break.

With Laura we have subliminal messages and things that only the two of us could possibly understand. Just like sisters would. Things like texting the words "I'm fine" or Wicked's "Elphaba and Glinda" and chocolate covered cake doughnuts with chocolate icing fresh from Dunkin Doughnuts or her obsession with Starbucks versus mine with Mountain Dew....OH and I can't forget "Nipples" and laughing so hard we puked at The Capital Grill! My world has been completely changed because I have a sister now.

About three weeks ago, I decided that I wanted to cut all my hair off for Laura. Ok, it wasn't exactly three weeks ago. I had been thinking about it long before then. I have watched Laura go through several rounds of chemo and radiation and have watched her lose her hair twice. I joked with her on many occasions that I was just going to buzz mine all off so she wouldn't feel alone. She would laugh at me and tell me that she didn't think I had the guts to do it. (She thinks she knows me so well! Hahaha!)

I prayed about it a lot and talked to my husband. If he didn't support it then that would be the end of the story, but he was the complete opposite. He said to me, "I think if this can be one act of love to show her just how much you care about her, than I say do it." Laura had a major surgery coming up on that Thursday, and because of the state of her illness, I felt like I wanted to act fast and do it before that surgery. So we totally planned it and we did it! On this day, three weeks ago, I had over 10 inches of hair flowing from my head and today it's roughly 1/8th of an inch. I asked one of my really good friends, Caroline Momberg, who is also a photographer, to come and document the sheering with pictures. The photographs in the video included in this blog are taken by her and edited by me. The song that the video is set to is called "Angel by your side" by Francesca Battistellli. The first time we heard this song was live at Winter Jam 2011. Both of us balled our eyes out and said this song reminded us of our friendship. (I included the lyrics here too)

I think Laura could have thrown up during the whole process! Her words were "Your nuts!" over and over again! We put my hair into about 10 pony tails because it's so thick. She made me cut the first one because she was too chicken. Then from there, she started snipping away. Stage one was complete in about 30 seconds. She was so fast that Caroline could hardly keep up with her. Stage two was buzzing the nasty stragglers and crazy frohawk. That was a little more difficult because my hair had a mind of its own. She did the best she could with the 4 guard. Later on I had to visit my hair dresser to correct some of the crazy insane issues and funky cowlicks.

I get asked all the time if I regret cutting it all off? My reply is NO WAY!!! If by doing this, Laura can see and know how much I love her and how much I support her and that she knows that she is not alone....then I would do it again in a heart beat. I could go on and on about the conversations I had with my children the night before we buzzed it all off and how they all reacted that day when they came home. Simply put, I think they learned a lesson about love and loving others the way Jesus intended on us to. My hair cut is also a reminder to myself to pray for Laura. Every time someone asks me or comments or says something, I am reminded of her and then I simply start praying.

Laura and I's friendship was brought together because of surgery and here I am today waiting to hear news if my best friend has made it through yet another surgery. I will share with you that the days before surgery are a rush. We try to get everything done that possibly can be and cram in as much fun in with our kids as it will allow. The night before surgery consists of late night texting and constant prayer because we never know if she is going to make it through the next day. The day of surgery is like torture on my soul...I sit at home and wait patiently on a text message that lets me know she has made it through. Makes my whole day numbing and pointless. But the moment that I know she is heart sighs gently and I can breathe again until the next surgery date. That's when I begin to pray...."Thank you Jesus for saving my friend again! Thank you for giving her back to her children and husband. Thank you for allowing us more days to laugh together and make more crazy memories. Please Lord, heal her body and give her the strength to push on."

Friendships are like marriages. For better or for worse. In sickness and in health. Till death do us part.


Lyrics to Angel By Your Side:

I can't say that everything's okay
cause I can see the tears you're crying.
and I can't promise to take the pain away
but you can know that I won't stop trying.

I'll be the angel by your side
I will get you through the night
I'll be the strength you can't provide on your own
"Cause when you're down and out of time
And you think you've lost the fight
Let me be the angel, the angel by your side.

I know it feels like you are running out of faith
Cause it's so hard to keep believing
But if I can bring a smile back to your face
For a moment you will forget all about it

I'll be the angel by your side
I will get you through the night
I'll be the strength you can't provide on your own
"Cause when you're down and out of time
And you think you've lost the fight
Let me be the angel, the angel by your side.

Cause this won't be the last time
You'll need a little hope
But I want to be the first to let you know

I'll be the angel by your side
I will get you through the night
I'll be the strength you can't provide on your own
"Cause when you're down and out of time
And you think you've lost the fight
Let me be the angel, the angel by your side.

Sunday, February 17, 2013



Oh blogging. I should call you ‘Dear Diary’ because I tend to pour my heart and soul out and write a short novel every time we meet. It’s like cleansing to my soul to be able to just sit and write and get all the emotional junk I carry around off my chest. So please forgive me if I tend to ramble, but I promise I have reasoning to my madness.

 Most of you either have followed me on Facebook or have read my blog and are aware of my dear sweet friend Laura. If you are clueless to whom I speak about, please go to this blog entry ( and read about our friendship and watch our video. It would totally help this blog make so much more sense.

 The last time I wrote about my best friend, she had come to me with the sad news that her double mastectomy turned reconstruction surgery had failed. Her body was rejecting her implants and the skin literally was infected and not healing properly. At this point in time, Laura hit a wall of emotions. She had lost her hair again for the third time because of all the chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Prior to that and also because of cancer, she had already experienced a full hysterectomy. And now the last bit of hope of still possibly being able to look or feel like a woman was slowly fading away from her. That’s when we had the celebration buzzin’ of my hair! It was the one thing I felt like I could do to help her to not feel like she was alone. However, I still couldn’t give her back any of the things she had lost.

After this Laura began to face more surgeries, more devastating news and even more heart ache and pain. Life just continued to weigh heavily on her. Like she was fighting a fight that could never be won. Each surgery she is warned that she may not wake up. And each surgery she continues to make it through. Recovery after recovery her body continues to try to survive.

At that point, I thought to couldn’t possibly get any worse for Laura.

I spoke too soon.

Laura lost a best friend breast cancer as well which spread to her bones.

Some one she felt was like a little sister. They had this incredible relationship and bond because they shared one thing in common that Laura and I could never have...cancer. And until the night she took her last breath, Laura was there by her side, holding her hand. Through her friend’s life and even her death she was able to show Laura God’s love for her in a whole new perspective. Laura’s life in Christ was reborn and made new.


 Laura is worn.

 Emotionally. Physically. Mentally. Spiritually.

Last November, Laura and I went to a Tenth Avenue North ( concert. As soon as we heard they were coming to Jacksonville, we knew we were getting tickets and we were going. We both had their new CD downloaded on our iTunes and ran it into the ground. I remember one night, I was up late editing a session and I get this text from Laura about this song. She told me that she felt like this song is speaking about her. I listened to it and was blown away at the power of the lyrics.

The night of the concert came. Many different songs were played and we waited patiently on just this one. The lead singer walks into the crowd of people and was preaching straight out of the book of James. I had goose bumps by the way God used him and how he just spoke God’s Word with such boldness. He stopped right in front of Laura and began to speak about trials and struggles. He prayed with her, returned to the stage and then began this song. She and I immediately began to hug and cry and worship.

It was one of the most incredible spiritual moments I have ever encountered in my entire life. To weep and beg and plead to God for a miracle, in the middle of this huge crowd, belting these worshipful song lyrics with my best friend laying in my arms. When two or more are gathered...Jesus says..THERE I AM!!!

A couple days later we decided that we were going to make this video to the song Worn to help Laura tell her story. We wanted to be able to reach out to those that may have cancer or even to anyone that might be going through a very hard time. Life circumstances are not always what we would chose. Cancer is not easy. It can be very hard, lonely, and painful. Not every moment is full of praise and healing.

For almost four years now I have watched my best friend be banged up and beaten by cancer. Yes, I know she is a super unique case to the entire cancer world. She has experienced so much more than one person should. I grieve for her when people come and go from her life, leaving her side when she needs it the most. I have heard her cries for relief and for healing and how she just wished this would all go away. Words can never explain the conversations we have had through text messages about finding joy and peace in this struggle.

Cancer has taken so much from her, but it has not taken our friendship. It has not taken her love for her children and her husband. And it will not take away her hope and faith and relationship with Jesus Christ.

Yesterday she texted me and wrote, “The true freedom of Christ comes from the moment you realize you have nothing to prove to anyone, because in Christ, God fully approves you.”

Laura is the strongest and most generous person I have ever met. Even in this time of suffering she wants others to know that they are not alone. She says to me all the time how she hopes and prays that no one ever has to endure anything like she has. Her love for her children amazes me. Her devotion to her marriage and family leaves me speechless.

My hope is that you will watch this video and say pray for my best friend and share it with someone who may need encouragement right now. I pray that you will understand that in Christ alone is the only place to put your hope and trust in. None of our time here on earth is guaranteed.

Our friendship has taught me to live my life to the fullest. To genuinely and passionately love my husband with every ounce of my being. To laugh and be silly and do all the small things in life with my children. Never leaving this world with a single regret. And to never forget to say I love you to my best sister that God gave me... every single time I text, talk, or see her.

Our friendship. For better or worse. In sickness and in health. Till death do we part.